What: A trendy US vegan restaurant chain’s inaugural London site in Covent Garden (a second is due to open soon at One Tower Bridge). By Chloe’s timing is impeccable. Due to launch last autumn but delayed until last month, the restaurant has opened amid a flurry of excitement around the growing vegetarian and vegan movement in the UK, which will soon welcome the first bricks and mortar restaurants for veggie burger brands Vurger and Pure Filth. But By Chloe has got in first, a bit like when it took Manhattan by storm in 2015 when it opened its tiny 10-seater restaurant on Bleecker Street.
Who: The chain takes its name from lifelong vegetarian, chef and cookbook author Chloe Coscarelli, but she is no longer involved in the business after falling out with backer ESquared. The two key figures behind the group’s expansion are By Chloe creative director and co-founder Samantha Wasser and ESquared CEO Jimmy Haber.
The vibe: At 70 covers, its debut London restaurant on Russell Street is slick and obviously pitched at a young, Insta-conscious crowd (think recently refitted Topshop). By Chloe is fast casual, but those that don’t want hot food can treat it like grab-and-go thanks to fridges that contain sandwiches, salads and cold drinks.
The food: By Chloe made a name for itself with its inclusive all-day menu that no longer made vegetarians and vegans feel like second-class citizens when eating out, with not everything on the menu being worthy or healthy, and its offer across The Pond is just as expansive. Items include salads (bad pun warning) Kale Caesar, Spicy Thai and The Greek; mac ’n’ cheese – made with potato-cashew cheese sauce and shiitake bacon; and burgers and sandwiches such as the classic – a tempeh/lentil/chia/walnut patty, pickles, onion, beet ketchup and special sauce in a potato bun – and pesto ‘meatballs’ in a potato sub roll. There’s also a substantial breakfast offer, which wouldn’t look out of place on any all-day menu in the capital, featuring hash browns (quinoa), pancakes and smashed avocado.
And another thing: In a nod to its new digs, there is also a London By Chloe section of the menu that embraces (and veganises, if such a word exists) traditional British grub. Thus you can order fish and chips and mushy peas, where the fish is made from crispy tofu; shepherd’s pie with seitan mince and beet ketchup; pea and ‘ham’ soup; and sticky toffee pudding with coconut whipped cream. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but, By Chloe, it can’t be accused of not giving it a go.